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The Holy Spirit by Stanley Hauerwas and William H Willimon 

A helpful and readable introduction to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit

HolySpirit225The Holy Spirit
by Stanley Hauerwas and William H Willimon
Abingdon Press 2015
ISBN: 978-1426778636
Reviewed by John Matthews

This is a short book – just over 100 pages - ‘written by Christians for Christians…to introduce the doctrine of the Holy Spirit’ (p1).

Given its brevity there is, inevitably, little space to develop the points made. It also means that some relevant biblical passages are simply quoted without any exposition at all, like the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22f, and others are omitted completely, like Paul’s lists of the gifts of the Spirit.
 
A distinctive stylistic feature is that statements which the authors wish to emphasise are either printed in italics or separated from the text by being printed in capital letters and bold type between parallel lines.
 
In the first chapter, entitled ‘Trinity’ the authors emphasise that if we would think rightly about the Holy Spirit, we must begin with by thinking about the Trinity and that ‘By the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the body we are made participants in the life of the Trinity’ (17).

The second chapter, ‘Pentecost: The Birth of the Church’, focuses on the work of the Spirit in the life of the Church.

The third, ‘Holiness: Life in the Spirit’, draws considerably on John Wesley’s understanding of holiness, and suggests that ‘in scripture holiness is not an individual achievement but rather a communal reflection of God’s glory and holiness.’ (69). The final, shorter, chapter is entitled ‘Last Things’.
 
The Nicene Creed and Apostles’ Creed are included, but there is no index of biblical passages, which would have helped readers to see which texts are referred to and/or discussed, and which are not. And whilst the 20 or so diverse works mentioned in the text can be followed up by those wanting to pursue the subject in greater depth, a bibliography would also have been useful.
 
All in all, this is a helpful and readable introduction to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit which will inform those with little or no knowledge and remind those who are better informed of things they may have forgotten.

 
John Matthews is a retired Baptist minister having served churches in Haddenham (Bucks), Northampton and Hitchin

Baptist Times, 05/05/2016
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